Legislature moves to override Court

February 28th. The Kansas Legislature is moving to overturn the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Prine, a child sex abuse case which was decided in January. Under that decision, over a dissent by then Chief Justice Kay McFarland, the court held that prior acts of sexual misconduct by the accused could only be introduced as evidence to prove intent if the prior acts and the ones charged were “so strikingly similar in pattern or so distinct in method of operation to the current allegations as to be a signature”.

Under the proposed new law, prosecutors would be able to introduce this kind of evidence provided they gave ten days notice to the Defense Counsel and the evidence met any of a broad list of descriptive categories. The Court’s rule that the modus operandi be a signature one is eliminated. It should be noted that the kind of conduct engaged in by John Prine is explicitly listed as one of the admissable circumstances. This approach is broader than simply codifying McFarland’s dissent into law. If passed and signed into law the Act would not be retroactive, however any new trials ordered under Prine would presumably be subject to the new rule.

Legislative status.
The bill is House Bill (HB) 2250, introduced by Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican. It passed the House on February 19th, by a vote of 122-1. Only Rep. Schwab (R-Olathe) voted against (two other Republicans did not vote).

The text of the bill is here. Details of the House vote are here.

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3 Responses to “Legislature moves to override Court”

  1. omarshanks Says:

    You fail to mention that Justice Beier, in the opinion she authored for the Court, suggested that the legislature ought to change the law. Also, the proposed legislation does not “codify” the Chief Justice’s dissent. She would have affirmed under her reading of the contradictory case law surrounding KSA 60-455. Then again, a close examination of the opinion doesn’t support your need for an “out of control judicial activism” narrative, does it?

  2. kscblog Says:

    To be clear: we explicitly stated in the post above that Rep. Kinzer’s bill is not codifying the former Chief Justice’s dissent:

    “This approach is broader than simply codifying McFarland’s dissent into law.”

    We mentioned Justice Beier’s recommendation in our original post on this case, back in January, which is linked above. This bill struck us as broader than what she had in mind, and if it passes the Senate I suspect she will get a chance to opine on it in due course.

  3. Update on State v. Prine / HB 2250 « Kansas Supreme Court Blog Says:

    […] on State v. Prine / HB 2250 By kscblog Previously we covered the action in the State Legislature to overturn the Kansas Supreme Court decision in State v. Prine, where a new trial was ordered for […]

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